New Review of Harry Potter and the Art of Spying

This review was posted by Indie Mine, a website dedicated to reviewing books and movies that are not typically covered by mainstream media. Read, enjoy, and check out their other reviews!


In light of recent events regarding the release of the “Torture Report” by America’s Central Intelligence Agency, I find myself in the difficult position of having to keep an objective viewpoint on the narratives given by everyone within the political sphere. It goes without saying that the contents of this latest report provide a shocking glimpse at the lack of transparency and corruption within our own system. To put it in the simplest of terms, the trust of the people is at a rather low point. Fortunately, I am not alone in working to answer the tough questions, such as “What if Harry Potter were in the CIA?” To give you an idea, we examine the work of spy novelist Lynn Boughey, and Peter Earnest, thirty-six-year CIA veteran and executive director of the International Spy Museum, in their companion guide, Harry Potter and the Art of Spying.

Due to their extensive backgrounds in the world of spycraft, it should come as no surprise that this is a subject they hold in high regard. Harry Potter and the Art of Spying examines our hero’s growth as a young recruit to a top secret covert operative from his tenure at Hogwarts. It is apparent that the writers are experts on the subject, and the extensive contributions of Courtney Klein and Nichole Ellis certainly help make the case that Harry is a damn good secret agent. The Art of Spying begins with a chapter-by-chapter analysis of Harry Potter and the Order Of The Phoenix, the fifth book in J.K. Rowling’s seven book saga. This essentially means that the reader is expected to know all the major plot points of the series beforehand. While it may seem odd to immediately jump right in to book five without first examining the previous four entries, the concept works rather well. It is explained that Harry’s true talents as a spy don’t really hold much weight until Dumbledore’s Army and the Ministry of Magic enter the fray. The first 38 chapters (yes, 38) are littered with footnotes and endnotes, as well as personal quips from the authors; in many ways it reads more like a fun lecture than an actual textbook.

This does not necessarily mean that everything from Sorcerer’s Stone to Goblet of Fire received the axe, however. Notes are scattered throughout the text that provide insight, direct quotes, and even sourced page numbers for reference. In the early chapters we are told that Harry’s skills at reading facial expressions are an absolute necessity in the world of spying, and his interactions with the looming shadow that is the Ministry of Magic paint a pretty clear picture of how interactions between agencies in the wizarding world accurately reflect our own. The real star of the show is Professor Snape, however. Fans of the series are well aware that our grumpy Master of Potions turned out to be one of the greatest Double Agents in the genre. Without getting into the hows and whys, I can say that Boughey and Earnest’s explanations are certainly worth considering the next time you reread… Or re-reread, or re-re-reread the series. Seriously, I can’t tell you why. That’s classified information. (Get it? Classified? That’s a CIA joke.)

The Art of Spying explores more than just the characters, too. What really makes this worth reading is the detail into the actual world of Harry Potter. The Aurors, the Dementors, the Ministry itself, etc. all have a role to play. Each agency has its own rich history, and it is certainly refreshing to see a companion book that delves deeper into the witching well. Another interesting aspect to consider is that the authors are well aware that J.K. Rowling probably didn’t intend for Harry and the gang to become spies. There is a sort of mentality that “If you search hard enough, you can find anything” prevalent from start to finish and the honesty is quite welcome. Included in the pages are expansive glossaries, annotations, and appendixes that are worth looking to for further information. The text itself is very easy to read and it is written in a clear, concise manner.

The Ethics of Reporting vs. The Ethics of Spying


The Tri-Wizard Tournament—Speak Slowly into My Acid Pen

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part I

In Goblet of Fire, we find out through Rita Skeeter what damage an unethical reporter can do. It is obvious that her main focus is gossip and certainly not the truth. Rita Skeeter repeatedly fails to accurately document what people say, twisting it instead to her own ends and adding adjectives and adverbs to describe her “personal” observations— or, more accurately, her personal slant on her observations (GF 147, 202–3, 314–15, 437–40, 611–13)!

We eventually find out how Rita Skeeter gets so much juicy information: she is “bugging” everyone’s secure areas—by being a bug (GF 727)! Obviously, she obtains her information without the permission of the person she is “interviewing”—which is in itself quite unethical. Reporters are supposed to identify themselves and request an interview. Rita Skeeter is instead using what we would consider spy craft to eavesdrop on people and gather information.


Unfortunately the movies skipped right over this juicy tidbit. Discovering that Rita Skeeter was an unregistered animagus may have been one of Hermione’s best moments!



Although spies are able to do eavesdrop on people, it is unethical for the press to use such means—as certain members of the press in London found out in 2011 when it was revealed that reporters were illegally intercepting and taping phone calls of famous people (including royalty) to get juicy stories. Read more about the International Phone Hacking Scandal here! 

peter-earnest-head-shot-372x372 In Harry Potter and the Art of Spying, Peter Earnest shares the story of the time he had to bug the office of one of his assets while working as a clandestine officer for the CIA!

We LOVE to HATE Rita Skeeter. Read other articles written by her on our blog! Long Lost Interview of Severus Snape, Rita Skeeter Interviews the Authors of Art of Spying , and Rita Skeeter Interviews President Obama.

Quiz: Close Your Mind, Harry!

Occlumency Scene

After Christmas, life for Harry Potter and his friends gets significantly more complicated. Voldemort is not only back, he is clearly after something and he is not afraid to hurt people Harry loves to get it. Take this quiz to see how much spy craft you picked up on while you read this part of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix! Answers will be posted here tomorrow!

1. As Harry leaves Grimmauld Place to return to Hogwart’s after Christmas break, Sirius gives him a special communication device. What is it?

2. What is the mode of transportation back to Hogwarts after Christmas break?

3. Who is the driver (who is later arrested by the Ministry on trumped up charges)?

4. Dumbledore realizes through his double agent that Voldemort perceived Harry’s intrusion into his mind when he was possessing the snake. What countermeasure does Dumbledore insist Harry learn to prevent Voldemort from turning Harry into a spy against him?

5. When Harry asks Snape how they know that Voldemort detected Harry, Snape applies the need-to-know rule against Harry, and tells him what?

6. Before their special lessons, Snape takes what and puts them away in a secure location?

7. When Snape is able to see Harry’s memories that he fears, Snape warns Harry about what?

8. During Harry’s lesson with Snape he is able to see further along the hallway of his dreams and recognizes where the hallway is located. Which is where?

9. What is the name of the Weasley twins’ new invention that makes your head disappear?

10. Why should the Weasley twins be assigned to the CIA Science and Technology directorate?

Spy Terms:

CIA Science and Technology Directorate (proper noun): One of 4 major CIA components, this division develops technologies that provide officers in the field with a significant intelligence advantage. Follow the link to learn more!

Need-to-Know (adj): A security standard in which only those persons who absolutely must know the information have access to it.

         Example: Only the members of the Order of the Phoenix are allowed to know the address of number 12 Grimmauld Place, which is given to each one by the Secret Keeper, Albus Dumbledore.



The Leaky Diary: Day 5


PowerPoint Title Slide

Just in case you haven’t read The Leaky Diary: Day 1The Leaky Diary: Day 2, The Leaky Diary: Day 3, or The Leaky Diary: Day 4, my name is Kelsey and I got the chance of a lifetime to attend LeakyCon in Orlando Florida with Harry Potter and the Art of Spying authors Lynn Boughey and Peter Earnest. This is my Leaky Diary where I explore some of my favorite parts of the experience, give some vacation advice to those interested in the Wizarding World of Harry Potter, and thank all of the wonderful people that made the trip a fantastic success!*

*Unlike Tom Riddle’s Diary, the goal of this blog series is not to convince you to open a secret chamber, kill a bunch of students, or do anything equally nefarious. I just want to tell my story. Still, as Arthur Weasley says, “never trust anything that can think for itself if you can’t see where it keeps its brain.”

A week ago today the Harry Potter and the Art of Spying authors gave their presentation at LeakyCon. Whew! It’s hard to believe that it all went by so fast! Since I helped run the PowerPoint, I sat up front and got to be just as nervous as the authors. Turns out, when you let smart people talk to other smart people about something everyone loves, the presentation goes pretty well.

image (3)

My Favorite Moments:

  1. Discussing the relationship between the disguises in Harry Potter and disguises used by real spies. Peter mentioned that the best disguises are ones that can be donned and removed very quickly. Turns out, the CIA actually hired John Chambers, the make up artist who worked on Planet of the Apes, to teach them make up techniques for their disguises. So now you know, it’s better to be an animagus or to have an invisibility cloak than to try to use polyjuice potion all the time!
  2. Watching the movie clip in which Harry learns all about Snape’s sacrifices through the Pensieve. The whole room fell absolutely silent for the movie and then erupted into applause. It was a fantastic way to end the presentation.

“After all this time? Always.”

3.  Giving away free stuff during our trivia challenge! We stumped some people with the question “On which floor and behind which tapestry is the Room of Requirement? Too bad they hadn’t been reading the trivia on our blog! There were some potterheads who knew almost everything though. Our tie breaker was the code from the cover of our book, which we discuss in this blog. 

Although we were sad to see the end of LeakyCon, the Esther Day Charity Ball was the perfect way to ring in the final day. I am not a huge party person, but it was wonderful to see so many happy people in one place.

This may be the last Leaky Diary, but don’t worry, you’ll hear much more from the authors and me in the coming month. The book will be released worldwide on September 8th after a fantastic launch at the International Spy Museum. Do you have questions about LeakyCon, Harry Potter World, or Harry Potter and the Art of Spying? Post them in the comments or ask the authors!